Death By Mother Nature

Where in the USA are you most likely to get killed by a natural disaster?

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If you don’t want to get killed by Mother Nature, stay out of the South. At least, that’s where you are more likely to get killed by a natural hazard, according to research conducted by a team of geographers at the University of South Carolina. And while wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes might get all the scary press, more people get killed by simple heatwaves than all the other natural disasters combined.

Geographers Kevin Borden and Susan Cutter compiled a county-by-county map of all natural hazard deaths, and big hitters like hurricanes and earthquakes accounted for less than 5 percent of all fatalities dealt out by nature. Cold winter weather and floods came just behind heatwaves as big killers, so don’t think you can escape by moving north.

In fact, cities like New York and San Francisco were among the safest places to escape Mother Nature’s grasping claw of death. If you hate cities, you’re best off in the Midwest.

If you need a tonic to battle your natural panic, check out “Never Fear,” our guide to battling backcountry phobias.

As for me, I’m digging a big hole in the ground, filling it with Spam and Fanta, and never coming out.

—Ted Alvarez

Death Map USA: Natural Disaster Hotspots Revealed (New Scientist)